Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo and the Associate Justices were paid a courtesy visit by U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires ad interim Heather Variava on Thursday, February 17, 2022, coinciding with the Embassy’s turnover of videoconferencing equipment to the High Court.
Joining the Chief Justice were Senior Associate Estela M. Perlas- Bernabe, Justice Alfredo Benjamin S. Caguioa, Justice Amy C. Lazaro- Javier, Justice Rodil V. Zalameda, Justice Mario V. Lopez, Justice Ricardo
R. Rosario, Justice Jhosep Y. Lopez, Japar B. Dimaampao and Justice Jose Midas P. Marquez.
Chargé d’Affaires a.i. Heather Variava was accompanied by International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) Director Kelia Cummins and INL Legal Specialist Atty. Chudney Ngo.
Also present during the courtesy call were Assistant Court Administrator and Supreme Court Spokesperson Brian Keith Hosaka, Deputy Clerk of Court and Judicial Reform Program Administrator Laura C.H. Del Rosario, and Management Information Systems Office Chief Jed Sherwin G. Uy.
The courtesy call was held inside the Session Hall instead of the Dignitaries’ Lounge as the former allowed for better physical distancing.
The Chief Justice discussed the Court’s ongoing judicial reforms, among others, including the policy document entitled Justice Real Time: A Strategic Plan for Judicial Innovations, 2022-2026 (Strategic Plan). The Strategic Plan showcases a framework and set of approaches formulated by the SC to achieve better results on the Judiciary’s fundamental function, which is to deliver justice.
Likewise, he discussed the Office of the Judicial Marshals which is expected to be signed into law by the President anytime soon. The Chief Justice said he will seek the assistance of the U.S. Government in the operationalization of the Office of the Judicial Marshals, especially in establishing a judicial marshals academy.
The Chief Justice also discussed how the Philippine courts managed to make the wheels of justice turn in spite of the pandemic through the conduct of videoconferencing hearings. He thanked the U.S. government for its donation to the Court of the videoconferencing equipment. “We truly appreciate all the help and support that the U.S. government has extended to the Court,” expressed the Chief Justice, adding that the U.S. Government’s donation of videoconferencing equipment “will contribute to our collective commitment in expanding the public’s access to justice through technology.” For her part, Chargé d’Affaires Heather Variava reaffirmed the commitment and support of the U.S. government to the Court’s judicial reform projects, as well as to the creation of the Office of the Judicial Marshals. She said it was “great to see how technology is being used for court proceedings” and that the U.S. government will “help and support you in ways we can. We highly value your friendship.” (Courtesy of the SC Public Information Office)